The day of camp came along very quickly and I woke up nervous, but excited on the morning of camp. The whole way to the RCH I was nervous to meet new people, but also so excited to see what all the excitement of January camp was all about. I turned up and instantly felt the exciting vibe that I felt from last camp. I knew I was excited, and even though I was scared, I knew it was going to be a wonderful time. The whole wait to get on the bus and have a long ride there was making everyone that much more excited, and a little nervous. I could see a lot of new faces, and a lot of faces I’d seen before, which was comforting for a newbie like me! As we got on the bus, it was clear everyone was super tired, hot, but enthusiastic to get there!
We arrived at the Lake Dewar Lodge in Myrniong and everyone’s eyes brightened up and the vibe of energy levels just went through the roof. For me, by this point, I was still a little intimidated and was feeling very nervous to find out who was on my team and in my cabin!
As we went to the main area, we had a bit of an introduction, met some amazing camp staff, met the medical team and volunteers and then we played a few name games! It was really good to get introduced in such a neutral environment. We found out our camp theme which was Pirates, and then our teams got read out! My team was the Spirit of Tasmania. We made our flags on the same day, found out our mascots, and named our morals for our team.
ChIPERS were then told where we were sleeping and we had time to go check out the cabins, set up, get changed, meet the people in our cabins, and then we were told we could go swimming or just rest as it was SO hot! For me, I slept. We had an awesome dinner catering for all types of dietary requirements and after dinner we went out to the field to play a traditional ChIPS camp activity, Tee Ball! It was so awesome to see everyone get involved and have a good laugh while the weather was cooling down. I even had a go and I don’t run very far, but I ran the whole way and all the ChIPERS were encouraging about it!! It was great to see a smile on everyone’s faces. After that, we all quietened down and got ready for bed. Day one was over, and everyone was exhausted!!
Day two- The biggest day of all!
Everyone woke up with smiles and tired eyes, but so ambitious for the day ahead. Teams were eager to get out there and give everything a go. Mainly to earn team points to come in first place. So the competition was on. My team had canoeing first, and everyone was a little worried about getting wet as the crazy weather went from super-hot, to super cold. I was a little scared about getting on the canoe. But after the encouragement of my team, I did it and our team got maximum points! Straight after that activity we had a snack, and then it was back into it! My team had tunnelling, which I was a little worried for as I’d heard bits and pieces from other ChIPERS on how it went down.
When we got there I wasn’t really keen on getting in the tunnels because of small spaces but they offered me a few options, and I stuck with my team leader the whole time and they were all encouraging and super happy to help me. I got a bit stuck at the net climbing part, but my whole team waited for me, and even helped lift me over when I wasn’t strong enough to get over. What a team! After that activity we headed back where we had lunch then straight after that back into activities. My team had a lip sync battle which was my favourite! We were given a 90’s song and were given a space of time to create a dance and a lip sync that was going to impress 4 other teams and a panel of judges (which was a few nurses!) later that night – It was just too much fun! Squish in another snack and we were off to our last activity of the day – the flying fox.
Talk about anxiety, I was SO scared! I don’t like heights and wasn’t keen on the thought of flying over a gorge. I put on a harness and got asked if I wanted to even get up there and give it a go after everyone had gone. After a small pep talk, a lot of tears, and a lot of encouragement from our team, I slowly sat in the harness and gave myself a little push to get through it. I covered my face and cried the whole way down. But I did it. But how proud was everyone? So much so! A small break was put in, then dinner and then we were off to get changed for the part of camp everyone is excited for! The Costume Party!! By this point everyone, including myself was exhausted, thrilled, happy and looking forward to the costume night. We did our usual catwalk where everyone showed off their costumes and did a walk down the middle, and after that the music was turned up and everyone was in a dance circle with an abundance of 90’s songs.
By this point I had met so many new people, overcome my fears, and was ready to take on whatever camp threw at me next. By the end of the night, everything was winding down and the traditional end song for the disco was about to be played; Bohemian Rhapsody. Unfortunately I got a bit unwell by this point and missed it, but I heard it went well as usual! Luckily for entertaining nurses who performed it for me in the Med room! I missed the rest of the night as I was taken to ED, but I heard that the night quietened down and everyone’s heads hit the pillows and they called it a night!
The last day is always a sad day, I was eager to make it out of hospital and I did! I made it back for the end of camp and everyone was encouraging and so happy to see me. Which made me feel welcomed and like I never left. I saw awards be presented, and our team came 5th. Better luck next time Spirit of Tasmania! Em Ryan won the Chris Balnaves award and Julia Ludbrook won the Rising Star award and everyone said goodbye to a few ChIPERS who were moving on to bigger and better things.
After a few tears, and goodbyes to people we weren’t going to see for a while, we were on the bus and on our way back to recover from a crazy 3 days. And even though most/all of us were exhausted we could not wait to do it all again in September and see our new/old friends!